BOSTON -- In the short term, the Red Sox sure needed a win. And in the long term, they sure need Josh Beckett to be an integral part of their rotation.
Combine those two elements and how they came together, and that put Sunday night's 4-0 victory in the highly satisfying category.
Beckett reverted back to his ace-like form of 2007 and '09, producing a dominant performance while facing the Yankees, the team against which he had struggled mightily over the previous three seasons.
The righty fired eight shutout innings, allowing just two singles while walking one and striking out 10. Not only did Beckett have results, but he had all of his pitches going, including a sharp two-seamer and a curveball that contributed to several of the strikeouts.
"It was huge," said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. "That lineup has been real good. You have to be good. He was really good."
It was Beckett's first double-digit strikeout game since July 27, 2009, and the best sign yet that he can effectively rebound from a nightmarish '10 season in which he struggled with both his effectiveness and health.
A case could be made that it was Beckett's best start since 2009. Does Beckett remember feeling that good about himself after a game last year?
"If I did, I can't remember it," Beckett said. "That's kind of me, moving forward to whatever is next and what I have to do tomorrow. I'm not really looking back that way."
The win was just Boston's second in nine games this season. But after a season-opening 0-6 road trip, the Red Sox took two out of three against the Yankees.
"We just need to win," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Tonight's game is tonight's game. Now we have to move on and play good tomorrow."
While Beckett was clearly front and center in this win, there were other contributors.
Dustin Pedroia continued his torrid weekend of hitting, going 3-for-4. In the series, the second baseman was 9-for-13.
"Yeah, he's kind of like willing himself to help us win games," Francona said. "That's not a surprise."
Marco Scutaro took some of the tension out of what had been a 1-0 game by belting a two-run double to left with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh.
Since joining the Red Sox last year, Scutaro is 9-for-16 with the bases loaded.
That clutch hit from Scutaro and a 420-foot RBI double by David Ortiz an inning later took the sting away on a night the Red Sox stranded 16 runners.
"It feels great, especially after all those men on base we'd left lately," said Scutaro. "It's nice to play as a team. We got great pitching from Beckett, and we scored some runs for him, too."
Boston also dodged a serious injury to one of its most important players, as Adrian Gonzalez said he was fine after being hit on the left hand by a CC Sabathia pitch in the fifth.
"It actually just made it numb," Gonzalez said. "It didn't give it, like, pain or anything. It just made it numb for a while. I just kept moving it to try to get some feeling there."
The Red Sox worked Sabathia hard, making the ace lefty throw 118 pitches over 5 2/3 innings.
"We got a lot of hits, and we also left a lot of men on base," Francona said. "Some of that is CC. Not only is he good, but he's a very intelligent pitcher. He knows who he wants to face, who he wants to maybe pitch around. He's very good at that. And we have left some men on. Fortunately, the way Beckett pitched, it didn't matter tonight."
The Red Sox got their first run in the third, and it did not come easily. After loading the bases with nobody out, Sabathia induced Ortiz into a 4-6-3 double play. But before you could say 1-0 Red Sox, second-base umpire Mark Wegner called Kevin Youkilis for interference for his takeout slide into second. Pedroia had to go back to third base, and Gonzalez was sent back to second.
It turned out not to be a big deal, however, as Pedroia scored the run on the next play, an infield single off the bat of Mike Cameron.
Even with a slight lead, Beckett cruised right along, mowing through the usually powerful New York lineup.
"He was really good tonight," said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira of Beckett. "Some nights you beat yourself up, and some nights you have to tip your cap, and this was one of those nights."
For the Red Sox, they were just happy to win and erase some of the sour taste created by that opening road trip.
"It's tough, because there are high expectations because we have a great team," Scutaro said. "But it's 162 games. Sooner or later, you're going to have a losing streak like that. There's way too much talent on this team not to win games. We've got a long way to go. When everything starts clicking, we're going to have some fun."
As far as Beckett is concerned, he hopes this outing is one that he can build on.
"We've still got a long way to go," Beckett said. "I feel good about my outing, yes. I went eight innings. I saved the bullpen a little bit. We still have a long way to go."